Sunday, July 25, 2010

Preference vs. Favoritism

As a parent of more than one child, 3 to be exact, I know one is not supposed to show favoritism to one child over another. You love your children equally regardless of circumstance or character or age or anything. But some parents throughout history have shown favoritism. Isaac showed favoritism toward Esau and Rebekah toward Jacob. Darth Vader favored Luke over Leia to join him in the dark side. The Baldwins have always favored Alec over the other 3. Well would you choose the one with the hit NBC sitcom and established movie career, or the one addicted to cocaine, the one married to Chynna Phillips from Wilson Phillips, or the one who starred next to Pauley Shore in "Bio-dome."

But I do believe parents can show preference at certain times for one child more than another. Favoritism is more long term where preference is short term. Preference is shown at certain times where favoritism is at all times. You love your children equally at all times but sometimes one child may stick out to you or do something cute/sweet or just come back from a long trip and you want nothing more than to spend all your time with that one child. The trick is sharing those moments with this child without the others seeing or you may risk jealousy in the others. Because they do not understand the concept of preference over favoritism.

My nine month old, Baby Nate, is so sweet and cute you literally want to eat him up. (I never understood this concept that one would want to devour and ingest something that they thought was adorable. I understand hugging the life out of it but not eating it. Maybe lions devour their young because they never got the memo that it was just a figure of speech.) He is so fun to hold, rarely cries, and smiles all the time. There are many times when I prefer him over the other 2 screaming, fighting toddlers because he doesn't talk back, fight, or slam doors. Then there are times I prefer our 2 year old Drew, when its just him and my wife and I after the other 2 have gone to bed and he talks in his jumbled English where you can make out every 3rd word in his high pitched little voice. He always informs us that he only peeped in his diaper, so no change me. And then our five year old, Zachary is so smart and his memory is so good that he can hold up a toy and tell me how old he was when he got it, who got it for him, and the other toys he got at that time too. He also knows 7-8 bible memory verses he recites each and every night but gets upset if he forgets one. So smart. Those are some times when I "prefer" that child and that time with them. But there are also times when Zachary is having a bad attitude day and every "get up to your room for time-out" is met with a "no" is met with a "how bout 'yes'?" is met with "how bout 'no'?" is met with a "how bout a spanking?" is met with "I'm going to my room." And at the same time, Drew is instigating a punching fight with Zachary and running around with a poopy diaper. And at the same time Nate is screaming to be fed, is poopy, and has just crawled to the dog's water dish and spilled it all over himself and the hardwood floors....again. At those times I prefer other people's children.

But the amazing thing about being a parent is that you love them all the same regardless. One might be more challenging than another, one might be more smiley than another, and one might be Drew. But they are each fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of our true Father who also shows no favorites.

But if God did play favorites, it would be me,
The Joyful and Tired Dad


  1. great explanation!... explains pretty clearly how I feel about my grandchildren (4 yr old twin girls, 7 yr old girl and 11 yr old boy). thanks! I actually found this by googling favoritism vs preference to get some claification for a question this week in my BSF (Bible study fellowship) lesson on James 2:1-13. posting as ' anonymous' because I don't have a clue what the 'profile' part is.

  2. so funny, BSF is exactly how I found the post too! what an awesome post and so beautifully explained. look forward to reading more. thanks for sharing!